Protesters shut down power plant

Protest at West Burton Power Station  (w121029-1a)
Protest at West Burton Power Station (w121029-1a)

POLICING the on-going protest at West Burton Power Station could end up costing the taxpayer heavily - say officers.

Climate change protesters scaled the chimneys of the gas-fired power station to shut down the unit in the early hours of Monday morning

The No Dash for Gas campaigners say the West Burton station is one of the first in a new generation of highly polluting gas plants planned for the the UK.

But Notts Police said the cost of policing the demonstration is costing the taxpayer around £14,000 a day and could top £200,000 by next week.

Assistant Chief Constable Paul Broadbent who is commanding the operation said he wants to bring a ‘successful’ and ‘swift’ conclusion to to the demonstration.

“We have no choice but to police the protest, to try and bring it to a successful and swift conclusion and to ensure that everyone’s safety at the power station is protected – including that of the protesters,” he said.

“That is already proving a drain on police resources – and if the current staffing levels are maintained day and night for the next week, that will cost in the region of £200,000 – excluding petrol, overtime payments, and other factors.”

He added: “Of course people have a legal right to protest – but they must do that lawfully. In trespassing into the power station, scaling chimneys and effectively taking up residency, the demonstrators have acted illegally.”

“I make no comment on the motivation, or cause, of those taking part in the protest. But I do wonder whether the tax payers of Notts would want scarce police resources to be occupied in policing this protest.”

Five of the protesters – all women from either Manchester or Leeds – were arrested as the group made their way into the site at around 1.20am on Monday and taken to Nottingham Police Station for questioning.

The remaining protesters have built barricades to defend their positions at the top of the 300ft tower and say they have enough supplies to last them for a week.

Anneka Kelly is one of the activists occupying the chimney and said they want an electricity system which doesn’t cause damage to the environment and increase our bills.

“Energy bills are going through the roof, people are getting flooded out of their homes and we’re seeing droughts across the world but the energy companies are making a killing,” she said.

“Gas is expensive and highly polluting, but if the Government gets its ways we’ll be reliant on it for decades.”

“Instead we should be investing in clean hi-tech renewables that slash pollution and in the long run will cost a lot less.”

The West Burton Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) power station is currently in a commissioning phase with the first unit expected to be fully operational by the end of the year.

An EDF Energy spokesman said at the time of trespass, Unit 2 was generating 280MW to grid through the course of commissioning tests - and was immediately shut down to protect protesters.

The remaining two units are non-operational and generation at the adjacent coal station is unaffected.

The spokesman said EDF Energy was committed to improving sustainability and affordability for its customers.

“On affordability, EDF Energy has a strong track record for consistently offering our customers highly competitive deals. We were the first major supplier to announce a price cut earlier this year and our customers have benefited from the lowest standard variable dual fuel prices amongst the major suppliers for 50 out of the last 52 weeks,” he said.

“Our new standard variable prices will still be cheaper on average for the typical customer than all our major competitors’ which have announced price rises in recent weeks.”